The FOI response which revealed a little too much

Ever sent an email then realised you’ve probably said too much?

I think we all have.

Ever sent an email then realised you’ve probably said too much, then realised your email will auto-publish on a website which helps people submit Freedom of Information requests?

That’ll just be Natalie Hatswell of Devon and Cornwall Police then.

According to the Plymouth Herald, Ms Hatswell made the reference about FOI requester Gregory Lake after he had submitted a series of FOI requests relating to mobile speed cameras in the South West.

It appears she didn’t realised her email included a reply to the Whatdoyouknow website, which auto-publishes responses from bodies which are accountable under FOI when requests are made by members of the public through its site.

The Herald reports that the police have now apologised to Mr Lake, who presumably is still waiting for a satisfactory answer to his FOI request. 

It’s probably over-stating things to say that such a response will confirm the suspicions of many about internal hostility towards people who want to exercise their right to know – but it certainly won’t do anything to dampen those suspicions.

But it’s probably a fair point to remind journalists about the value of Whatdotheyknow – although admittedly, it’s the information authorities meant to release that makes the news, not their character assessments of those making the requests!


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